Well what a change of the weather we’ve had…November through February was so dry, with no snow in the mountains at all. Grower’s heads were hanging down very low, but most kept their hopes up saying we could still have a miracle March. What is miracle March you ask? In 1991, California experienced its worst drought since the Dust Bowl; Lake Tahoe was at its lowest levels in recorded history. The continuing drought in California cost the state at least $1 billion that year in agriculture losses, increases in energy costs and damage to the environment, state officials said, but March of 1991 delivered over 7 inches of rain helping ease the long 5-year drought. March 2018 was very close to that record year, handing the valley floor over 5 inches of rain in March alone. This helped valley growers by dumping great amounts of snowfall in the Sierras, allowing a 100% Class 1 water use this year for crops.
Switching gears from California Agriculture to India Agriculture: In late March my family and I visited the northwest part of India, specifically the state of Punjab where my family comes from. This state is similar the San Joaquin Valley as it has rich, deep soils that produce a bounty of different types of crops. The main crops are wheat, potatoes, rice, sugarcane and now citrus. This area’s farming is multi-generational, which is why you see many Indian farmers in the Central Valley carrying on their family legacy. One difference in the farming is that in Punjab there are few large parcels of ground to farm, so an average farm is 10-20 acres and a large farm might be 50-60 acres. Labor is still very affordable there and mechanization is also happening. Meaning that growers are turning to tractors and implements to cultivate their fields instead of oxen driven plows. You do still come across a few tilling fields with an ox, which my kids really enjoyed watching and my daughter asked me “How many horsepower is that bad boy!!”
The middle class in India is growing and they want more California grown products as is very evident when walking around supermarkets. All you see is California almonds, pistachios, and walnuts. They are everywhere and in high demand! So, with that being said I believe California Agriculture will have a great market share to keep developing in this growing country.
As spring moves forward, its that time again…May 6th is the MCFB Scholarship Wine & Beer tasting event, held at the Peters Brothers Nursery. The proceeds raised at this event help our scholarship fund which awards scholarships to local youth going into the study of Agriculture. This year we awarded 15 bright young students scholarships totaling a new record of $64,000! To these well deserving students, these awards will help these kids in advancing their brighter future and to give a helping hand in Agriculture
On a more personal note, I wanted to let our farm bureau membership know that I am taking a leave of absence from my presidency. There will not be a president’s message in the next few editions, but if there is a question regarding what MCFB is up to please feel free to contact our executive director, Christina, or the 1st Vice President, Nick Davis. They will be more than happy to help you. Thank you all for your time and support.